Dan Stout, Senior Manager for SMR Technology, TVA Technology Innovation, talks about life after winning the US Department of Energy (DoE) Licensing Technical Support Program for small modular reactors.
Interview by Jason Deign
Q: What does the winning of this award mean in practical terms?
A: Having the additional funding from DOE will allow the mPower America Team to remain on an aggressive schedule for potential deployment by 2022 by providing an opportunity for reimbursement of some of TVA’s costs, up to 50% cost share by DOE.
This enables us to move a little faster than we would without the cost share. The FOA will provide funds in the form of reimbursement of qualified costs for the development and licensing of the B&W mPower reactor.
Q: Will mPower America be expanding its personnel/operations, and if so, how?
A: Currently the mPower America team has hundreds of engineers, technicians and operators in the U.S. working on all aspects of the project. As we continue to work aggressively toward deployment, particularly once we enter the manufacturing and construction stage, we expect a significant number of jobs to be created across TVA, B&W and supplier facilities.
TVA also has added a small number of staff since selection in November. Knowing that the project has been reviewed and selected by DOE is an important step and signal to individuals making career decisions and TVA making investment decisions.
Q: What are the next steps in the process now that funding is in sight?
A: B&W and DOE are in the process of negotiating a Cooperative Agreement which will determine how much funding will be allocated to the mPower America Team. We anticipate this agreement will be signed in March 2013 and be in place for up to five years.
Q: How do you see the supply chain for SMRs developing in future?
A: Generation mPower is in the early stages of scoping out the supply chain for the mPower Plant. B&W will be providing the actual mPower reactor vessel/steam generator component, while other components will be supplied by strategic partners. Some noncritical components will be competitively bid.
Q: Will this be an all-American program or do you anticipate international collaboration?
A: We expect it to be predominantly American. B&W has an established North American supply chain for the current nuclear manufacturing operations and we expect that to continue and be somewhat expanded.
A: What is the time-frame for licensing SMRs at Clinch River and what will the reactors installed there be used for?
A: TVA anticipates submitting a license application to the NRC for up to four mPower SMRs at the Clinch River Site in the 2nd quarter of 2015. Depending upon the review time and given certain assumptions regarding long-lead procurements, site preparation and construction, it is possible that these initial SMR units will be operational in 2022.
Should TVA decide to deploy SMRs, these initial units should help TVA and the Department of Energy meet its clean energy goals and power requirements.
Following the civil nuclear agreement signed between the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the Chinese government, a new model for cooperative supply and investment has been created.
Nuclear plants are planned to be built or currently under construction in all corners of the world, these developments will ask inevitable questions on the supply chain, and what is expected of companies who wish to contribute to the growing nuclear industry.
Some European Union (EU) member states are concerned that their nuclear fuel supply chain is not diverse enough, which in theory could make them less resilient to market changes, and political movements. We look at how this could impact future supply agreements.